The renowned sports journalist Mel Antonen died last Saturday. The world-famous journalist dies of auto-immune diseases and complications from covid-19. Antonen had served as a TV baseball reporter for MSNA and was a USA Today sports reporter for a long time. He has covered about 3 dozen of the world series. Antonen was 64.
A family man and a friend to all, Antonen was really good at telling other’s stories. But seems like his own story was the best of all, which began on Aug. 25, 1956, Lake Nordan, South Dakota. He was born on this day to Ray and Valda Antonen.
The Former Sports Reporter For USA TODAY MLB Dies At 64
Amateur baseball was always promoted in Lake Norden, a small place with hardly 550 residents, by the Antonen family. Mel Antonen used to be fascinated about his father Ray’s work in promoting the game. He even manages to bring Cy Young and Satchel Paige Award winner Jim Perry to showcase their sport talent and play at Memorial Park.
While growing up with a special attachment to the game of baseball, Mel Antonen was in love with baseball. During his induction to the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, Mel Antonen simply uttered, “I love baseball because it always brings me home.” He compared Lake Norden’s baseball ground beside a cornfield and the baseball ground in New York beside a rumbling subway. He said that irrespective of the locations, the baseball grounds give him a homely appeal.
The Watertown (S.D.) Public Opinion was his first writing experience when he wrote a score for Lake Nordan’s home games for the newspaper. He was paid 15 cents for each copy. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader gave him his first job opportunity after graduation from Augustana University. Antonen eventually started covering the sports, farm and political beats.
Antonen later joined USA Today in 1986. Earlier projects revolved around many sports scandals of the time. The stories played in 1989 world stories interrupted by a severe earthquake.
The retired USA TODAY Sports editor Henry Freeman recounts how Antonen was not merely representing the game’s statics but was so good in presenting this stuff in a story. Mel Antonen was not limited to mere ball and sticks and to the score card.
When one says, Antonen was an easy-going person with a friendly appearance, Dan Connolly can justify the words. Cannolly was the closest to the late reporter, who shared the neighboring space in the press box.
According to Cannolly, he was a good friend, has an easy-going personality, he could relate to anyone and anybody, a smart story narrator, everything and every way about the person was likable. And that’s why everyone loved him. Besides, he was a great listener. One can tell anything to him.
The World, series, three Olympics and many professional bowling leagues were covered by him in a long career of sports reporting.
According to Freeman, his editor at USA Today recalls that his knowledge and reverence to baseball history was admittable from the first day itself. Even his love for stories was quite evident. Freeman agreed that all these qualities were built in him because of his father.
He had also worked for Sirius-XM, MASN’s Mid-Atlantic Sports, Sports Illustrated and many other publications.
His passion was so great that he continued working even after diagnosed with covid-19 and auto-immune disease. The doctors exclaimed that the combination is rare that he might actually be the only person to have it in the world.
Antonen’s love for his work was inexhaustible. One can imagine this when he quoted, “I can’t imagine being anything other than a reporter, an ink-stained wretch,” to his Hall of Fame audience.